The Louisville Cardinals (2-4) came into the season with high expectations. They returned a highly talented quarterback, several highly recruited skill players on both sides of the ball, and a coaching staff with a reputation for maximizing talent and ability every year they work with their players. Head coach Bobby Petrino and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham have worked tirelessly to help this young Louisville team mature and grow. The expectation from Year One to Year Two was supposed to be quite significant, but it has been quite the challenge to get this team where it would like to be. The greatest challenge has been consistency and playmaking. Louisville has struggled to get their young players all on the same page, at the same time, week in and week out.
Louisville wants to change this trend against the Boston College Eagles (3-4). Boston College is also an up-and-down team that is struggling to find some consistency. Since they entered ACC play, the Eagles have not been able to find the winning formula, mainly because they have not been able to find any offensive production or a consistent field general. Head coach Steve Addazio hasn't gotten good quarterback play following Darius Wade's season-ending broken ankle. Neither Jeff Smith nor Troy Flutie (who has the last name of another famous Boston College QB) has performed well enough for either freshman to lay claim to the starting position.
Louisville and Boston College will both try and find some momentum this week.
Boston College at Louisville
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN3 or ACC Network (check listings)
Spread: Louisville -7.5
Three Things To Watch
1. Jackson + Quick = Victory
It seems like the formula for Louisville to win is simple. Lamar Jackson runs the ball. Jackson runs again. Now throw it to James Quick. The result? Hopefully either a first down or a touchdown. It doesn’t seem like the Louisville offense needs more than just to get the ball to their best playmakers. Quarterback Jackson and wide receiver Quick seem to be the keys to making the Louisville offense flow. The challenge for Louisville is to put these primary playmakers in diverse situations, so they can open up other parts of the offense. If they do that, they will certainly have the advantage.
2. First Team to 17 Wins
These are not the most prolific offenses in the ACC. Louisville is averaging 26.3 points per game, but only 19.3 points in conference play. Boston College is averaging 25.2 points for the season, but only 15 points per game in conference play. This has all the making of a very, very VERY, low-scoring game, especially against these defenses. Boston College only allows 11 points per game, while Louisville gives up 23 points a game. Two stingy defenses against two inept offenses probably equals a very unentertaining game.
3. A Game to Build the Future
This season for both Louisville and Boston College is more about where these two programs are headed than where they are now. Both these programs are trying to build recruiting and on the field momentum. Saturday’s game is about how to move these programs forward and to make them attractive to much needed recruits or transfers. If Louisville and Boston College can put together a decent-LOOKING game, it may go a long way towards reaching the players that both these programs are targeting in their recruiting efforts. It appears that both programs now have the coaching staffs and programs in place to sustain long-term success. Now it’s time to get the players needed to make it so.
This will not be the most entertaining game in the history of college football, but it could be a game that has tremendous influence on the future of both of these two programs. Louisville seems to be further along than Boston College in the development of its program, and that is probably going to be the difference in this game. That subtle advantage at quarterback for Louisville will be the difference that should put the Cardinals over the top Saturday... barely.
Prediction: Louisville 24, Boston College 15
— Written by Lloyd H. Spence, Jr., who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Spence also has written for the Dallas Morning News, Yahoo!'s Rivals.com, and ESPN Louisville. He can be heard on the radio of "Talkin NOIZ" and "The Football Show of Collin County." Follow him on Twitter @TalkinNOIZ.